Thursday, January 22, 2015

Believe the Hype! The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Source: personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

My Review:

It's only partway through January, and already I feel like this book has more hype than any novel can handle in 2015.  ERRRR-BODY is reading The Girl on the Train right now, people!  I had a credit on my Amazon account and couldn't help jumping on the bandwagon for this one, because yes--it gets compared to Gone Girl pretty much non-stop.  Check the reviews on Goodreads--almost every single reviewer mentions it.

I don't like to write a review that constantly compares the book in question to a previous read...but I'm going to do it anyway here, because my reading experience was absolutely influenced by the fact that so many people made the Gone Girl comparison.

There are, admittedly, a lot of similarities.  If you liked the unreliable narrators in Gone Girl, you get a bonus in Girl on the Train, because there's three of them.  And they are all kinds of batsh*t crazy.  One is a massively insecure, unemployed, raging alcoholic.  Another is a woman with a mysterious past who has recently gone missing.  And then you have the housewife whose constant paranoia leaves every one of her chapters thick with anxiety.  Yup, if you want a story where you're never sure who's telling the truth, then winner winner chicken dinner right here.  Plus, none of the narrators are quite what they seem--your interpretation of these three very different women is guaranteed to change by the time you reach the end.

The other big similarity?  The suspense.  Once you get going with this novel, you better clear your schedule.  The narrators weave quite a spectacular tale, and once you get wrapped up in it, you'll whip through chapters wanting to know what's next.  I FLEW through this book, and I don't fly through a lot of books these days.  The story is dark, sinister, and twisted in many ways, and will leave you with the same sort of unsettled feeling that you probably got from that Gillian Flynn novel.**

I will say that one significant difference for me was in the ending.  At the end of Gone Girl, I felt like the ending was perfection--not just the actual events involved, but the tone as well.  (I know not everyone agrees with me on this, NOTED.)  The Girl on the Train was different.  I saw the conclusion coming a lot sooner than I wanted to--I had figured out the "whodunit" quite a while before the book got around to revealing it, which was a little disappointing.  And I found the culprit's frank demeanor about the whole situation to be rather odd.

That said, I wouldn't say the ending ruined the novel for me as a whole.  The suspense in this book really can't be beat, and that alone makes the reading experience worth it.  Plus, despite being a little predictable for me, I will say the ending keeps with the dark nature of the rest of the book, so it felt fitting even if it wasn't especially surprising.

Final verdict: despite feeling so-so about the ending, I think the hype around this book is well-deserved.  If you want a truly engrossing read, get yourself on that 138-person wait list for The Girl on the Train at your local library, like ASAP.

Who's read this highly-hyped novel already?  What did you think (no spoilers please!)?  If you haven't read it, do you think you'll be giving in to the hype and trying it anytime soon?

**Without giving spoilers, I would like to mention that the death of a young child plays a role in this book.  It is not gory, but it was difficult for me to read when I came upon it unexpectedly, and I felt it would be helpful to include this trigger warning for other readers.


  1. Thanks for such a balanced review! I've been kind of avoiding this book because of all the hype and Gone Girl comparisons (comparisons to such huge blockbuster books just rarely seem to be accurate), but now I'm kind of interested in reading it once the hype dies down.

    1. This is a rare case where I think the comparisons are warranted. I've read a LOT of books that attempt to make the Gone Girl connection, and this is the first one where I felt like there was a true similarity in tone and subject.

  2. I was reading about this in EW and it sounds so good! Definitely going to pick it up....

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  3. Yeah, I'm probably going to read this one because this sounds exactly like the sort of thriller I dig and also Gillian Flynn-ish catches my attention... but WHOA my library's hold queue is insane. I put myself on the list, we'll see if I can avoid spoilers for another 3 or 4 months!

    1. Yes, all the hold queues have exploded! Here's hoping all your fellow patrons read fast!

  4. The hype is intense on this one. I feel like i need to read it RIGHT NOW before it gets so overly hyped that I'll inevitably be disappointed.

    1. I can't wait to hear what you think. You have picked it up since I wrote this post, yes?

  5. Okay, I had no idea what this book was about or that it was being compared to Gone Girl because I live under a rock and saw the title so often that I kind of started to ignore it, but now I’m a little curious.

    1. So happy I got your attention! :) It's worth the time for sure.

  6. Just that comparison to Gone Girl has sold me on this book. I have to read this one now.

    1. Exactly how I felt! So glad I gave into the hype this time.

  7. I read this, too. I think Riverhead, the publisher, is doing a great marketing job for this book, right down to its very clever cover. But, after all this hype, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN disappointed me. While it kept my attention, it wasn't as unputdownable as claimed until the last couple of chapters. It wasn't for me.

    Rachel is just a raging alcoholic who has opinions about people that are often based on nothing and are always wrong. The entire book is about her alcoholic blackouts and figuring out what really happened.

    Some things about this book are aggravating. For instance, during tense moments, characters, especially Rachel, bite their lips, often so hard they draw blood. I could just imagine all the people walking around with bloody mouths they had chewed.

    The biggest aggravation is difficult to describe without saying too much and spoiling the story. It has to do with how everything is explained in the end. That kind of ending is too easy.

    Yet, even considering these and other faults, the book did keep my attention more than a lot of books.

    1. Ah, well I'm glad it kept your attention, even if it wasn't for you in the end. Interesting because I felt like the first 90% of the book was "unputdownable" for me, but the last 10% less so--mostly because it was somewhat predictable, as I mentioned in my review. A bit opposite of your feelings on the plot movement!

      I didn't dislike Rachel, but I do agree that her blackouts were a little odd at times. They often seemed conveniently placed. I suppose I didn't question it too much when I was steeped in the story, because I was so wrapped up in trying to figure everything out myself.

  8. I haven't read this yet, but I'd like to! I actually haven't read Gone Girl yet either, so I'm not sure if I'll enjoy having an unreliable narrator, although the idea fascinates me. Like Leah said, getting a balanced review of this one is nice, so thanks!

    1. I feel like the unreliable narrator thing is becoming more common these days. I like it because it keeps me guessing more than your average thriller. Mind of Winter was another one I remember reading recently that used this device well.

  9. I found this a really compelling read and while not as good as Gone Girl, I found I was on completely the wrong track until almost the end of the book. So, I was pretty happy with the suspense overall, and I overlooked any minor issues just because of the sense of tension and suspense.

    1. Completely agree! I had little things in the book that I didn't enjoy, but the overall suspense made the entire reading experience worth it.

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